A Rooting Interest
When you’re a kid and you set your sights on a certain player — a hero to admire — a special bond forms. As a kid, my sports heroes meant a lot to me – Julius Erving, Jack Nicklaus, Bill Bergey, Bobby Clarke, George McGinnis, Dick Allen, Dave Cash. AND Mike Schmidt — who was my biggest hero.
Times passes and players go away. You grow up and although you may still reminisce, your own life goes on.
Then, something happens.
Your own kid finds a hero. For my eleven year old son Peter, that hero is Pat Burrell. A lifelong Philadelphia Phillie who came up through the Phils’ organization.
Once Peter settled in on Burrell, I had no choice but to (and was glad to) root for Pat the Bat along side Peter. It rekindled a little of my own youth.
When rumor spread of Burrell’s imminent relocation, Peter didn’t want to believe it. When the Phillies signed Raul Ibanez to be their new left fielder, my son knew it was a matter of time.
Today it became official. Peter’s in school now as I’m writing this and I’m going to have to break the news to him that his hero no longer plays on his favorite team.
Pat Burrell is now a Tampa Bay Ray.
My biggest hero never switched teams – Schmitty was a Phillie for life. Once Dr. J got to the Sixers, he stayed there. Jack Nicklaus?? Well he didn’t play for a team, did he? Cash, Allen, McGinnis — those guys were kind of just hanging on when they left my teams.
Suffice to say I don’t have an awful lot of experience in seeing my heroes leave my favorite teams. Yet, at 3:00 today, I’m faced with breaking the news to an eleven year old who only had one hero in sports.
The ecomomics of baseball played a roll of course. But in this case, the Phillies felt it was just time to move on. Like his teammates will move on. And all his adoring fans in Philadelphia will move on. And one eleven year old kid some 1,000 or so miles away from the City of Brotherly Love — who I suspect will move on — after he figures a way to let go.